Bentrice Jusu

Paradoxica Mimesis: Houses of Dignity

May 6 – 11, 2013

Artist Statement

My Daddy’s conventional Liberian wisdom correctly asserts that “in order to know where you are going, you must first know where you have come from.” Now as I approach college graduation, which most people consider a milestone, I find that self-reflection is necessary for progression. Sometimes, however, just like Daddy’s adage, in order to progress, regression is compulsory. The synopsis of my work, Mimesis Paradoxica: Houses of Dignity, can ultimately be described as a “process of progress—” A personally constructed means for discovering an indispensable truth. Getting to my truth that is linked with my identity and is timelessly reinforced by Daddy’s adage, means using the artistic forms of sculpture, performance, and video to gain a resolution as I revisit the past.

I was born in Trenton, New Jersey. Paradoxically, I was raised in a Liberian household. It is from this geographical and cultural convolution that Mimesis Paradoxica: Houses of Dignity emerges. The houses symbolizes two different eras, yet also presents the parallel of my parents and my humble upbringings, which is at the core of the two structures.  Conceptually, this is a work that merges metafiction (me building these mimetic structures to show the impossibility of recapturing the experiences of the past) and the reality of my personal investigation (the narrative of my mother and father’s experience and my genuine desire to want to understand it.)

Through video, performance, and sculpture, I attempt to weave together the two cultural narratives that have been both perplexing, and fundamental to my maturation. In this documentation of process, in the process of investigating the pasts of my parents as well as their influence on my own growth, I recreate interpretations of pivotal moments of my parents’ upbringing and interweave the tapestries of Liberia and New Jersey, hoping to give structure to the complicated threads of my lineage; the duality of my heritage and influences. This entire experiences serves to defamiliarize the idea of home for both me and especially the viewer who encounters this structure within structure— all of which add an interpretive layer and serve as another form of meta.

Paradoxica Mimesis: Houses of Dignity re-presents my cultural dichotomy, and the deliberation to explore and define the Diaspora from which I have been far removed. Although each of the pieces is individually composed—performance, sculpture, and video—they all work together to illustrate suture.

About the Artist

Bentrice Jusu is a senior studio art major and film studies minor. She hails from Trenton, New Jersey where she was born and raised in a Liberian household. Most of Jusu’s work is based on social stratifications and cultural politics and identities. Both Art and the communities in which she has resided, play a significant role in Jusu’s life. During her sophomore year at Wake Forest University, she founded Both Hands: The Artlet, an arts based non-profit organization in Trenton, NJ that engages the inner city and underserved youth in artistic media ranging from poetry, visual arts, film, and dance. Both Hands serves to counteract the negative factors omnipresent in the Trenton community by providing artistic resources and opportunity for youth – those who are most susceptible to such devastations. Art has made an everlasting impression on Jusu’s life, and she considers it her obligation to provide the same opportunities for growing generations.

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